Businessman Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber was a member of the Federal National Council in 1972. He was among the group of patriots who laid the foundation stones for what is today’s UAE. Ravindranath K / The National
Businessman Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber was a member of the Federal National Council in 1972. He was among the group of patriots who laid the foundation stones for what is today’s UAE. Ravindranath K / The

Founding FNC member shares fond memories of Sheikh Zayed

ABU DHABI // Ahmad Al Jaber, a pioneering member of the FNC, remembers a time when they used to work “day and night for the country to stand on its feet and reach the development we see today”.

Mr Al Jaber, from Umm Al Quwain, was one of the members who launched the FNC in 1972. He was also the first to greet Sheikh Zayed outside the council’s chambers when he arrived for the opening session, along with the speaker, Thani bin Humaid.

Mr Al Jaber described the early days as filled with excitement.

“We raised different issues and raised hundreds of questions,” he said.

While the council’s enthusiasm for its work remained undiminished, he recalled a “turning point in ministries’ cooperation” with the FNC, from 1974 to 1978.

Sheikh Zayed had requested live television coverage of the sessions and he used to watch them, “so when this happened the ministries paid more attention to the council’s requests”.

“He wanted things to flow quickly and for the people to know the role of the council,” Mr Al Jaber said.

He remembered a day when the FNC received a request from a Sharjah hospital to discuss faulty equipment.

“When Sheikh Zayed heard about this, a committee was formed by myself and five [FNC] members, and he ordered a military helicopter to take us there immediately. We took a legal counsellor with us and two specialist doctors from the Ministry of Health.”

They investigated the issue and presented a detailed report to Sheikh Zayed who “summoned the health minister on the same day”.

“And that was the case with all requests, not just this hospital.”

FNC members at the time also worked closely with legal officials setting the law, as they adopted models from countries such as Egypt, Syria and Palestine.

“Even if they were men of the law, they used to consult with us on many issues, I used to stay late at night with them.

“We grew up from nothing before the union, so we effectively contributed.”

Also when members studied important internal issues – such as agriculture and fish resources – but faced budget shortages, they would go directly to Sheikh Zayed and he granted them extra funding.

Mr Al Jaber, who served until 1979, still follows the council’s proceedings.

“I wish for the current FNC term to revise all the previous early sessions to see how it worked with the federation to reach where we are today.”

If in some cases, the ministries and members were unable to reach a resolution, “there is nothing that prevents them from meeting with the president and supreme council. At least once a year to overcome obstacles”.

Mr Al Jaber did not rely on the council’s sessions to show his support for the UAE as a country.

In 1976, he led a parade of 5,000 people from Umm Al Quwain to Sheikh Zayed, who was at the airport palace in Al Ain, to pledge their loyalty and support for the union.

“Nationals from across the emirates joined us that Friday, as we carried a message to support all that Zayed wanted to carry out in the welfare of this nation,” he said.

Before joining the FNC, when he was 25 years old, Mr Al Jaber was a manager at the Kuwait government’s hospital in Dubai. He was also a member of the development council during the Trucial States [as the seven sheikhdoms were known] period.

When the British announced their departure, the development council was replaced by an Abu Dhabi development office, based in Sharjah and funded by Sheikh Zayed, of which he also was a member.

After that, Mr Al Jaber was appointed to the FNC as a representative of Umm Al Quwain from 1972 to 1975. He was an Abu Dhabi member from 1975 to 1979.

“Sheikh Zayed honoured me and gave me the Abu Dhabi seat the last two years,” he said.

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5 of the most-popular Airbnb locations in Dubai

Bobby Grudziecki, chief operating officer of Frank Porter, identifies the five most popular areas in Dubai for those looking to make the most out of their properties and the rates owners can secure:

• Dubai Marina

The Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence are popular locations, says Mr Grudziecki, due to their closeness to the beach, restaurants and hotels.

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh482 to Dh739 
Two bedroom: Dh627 to Dh960 
Three bedroom: Dh721 to Dh1,104

• Downtown

Within walking distance of the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and the famous fountains, this location combines business and leisure.  “Sure it’s for tourists,” says Mr Grudziecki. “Though Downtown [still caters to business people] because it’s close to Dubai International Financial Centre."

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh497 to Dh772
Two bedroom: Dh646 to Dh1,003
Three bedroom: Dh743 to Dh1,154

• City Walk

The rising star of the Dubai property market, this area is lined with pristine sidewalks, boutiques and cafes and close to the new entertainment venue Coca Cola Arena.  “Downtown and Marina are pretty much the same prices,” Mr Grudziecki says, “but City Walk is higher.”

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh524 to Dh809 
Two bedroom: Dh682 to Dh1,052 
Three bedroom: Dh784 to Dh1,210 

• Jumeirah Lake Towers

Dubai Marina’s little brother JLT resides on the other side of Sheikh Zayed road but is still close enough to beachside outlets and attractions. The big selling point for Airbnb renters, however, is that “it’s cheaper than Dubai Marina”, Mr Grudziecki says.

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh422 to Dh629 
Two bedroom: Dh549 to Dh818 
Three bedroom: Dh631 to Dh941

• Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah's proximity to luxury resorts is attractive, especially for big families, says Mr Grudziecki, as Airbnb renters can secure competitive rates on one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations.

Frank Porter’s average Airbnb rent:
One bedroom: Dh503 to Dh770 
Two bedroom: Dh654 to Dh1,002 
Three bedroom: Dh752 to Dh1,152 


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